Success Through Education Program

The County of San Mateo has committed $95,000 in grant funds to a relatively new anti-recidivism program helping the formerly incarcerated successfully reenter society through a unique six-prong approach emphasizing one-on-one relationships.

The Success Through Education Program (STEP) uses proven expertise in education and training to develop for participants a multi-year plan with six major components: assessment of skills and literacy; academic and vocational advising, seminars in life skills like financial management and job seeking; one-on-one mentoring; assistance with financial aid for education; and paid and unpaid internships.

In awarding STEP a $95,000 Community Corrections Partnership Grant, County of San Mateo officials said the program is an opportunity to improve the futures of both the formerly incarcerated and the place they call home. 

“Having individuals cycle in and out of jail in San Mateo County means communities are less safe, families are torn apart and the public bears an ever-increasing cost,” said Deputy County Manager Mike Callagy. “Reducing the rate of recidivism will not only reduce the size of the inmate population in San Mateo County jails but also have a major impact on the lives of the people of this county.”

STEP uses evidence-based management practices to continually improve outcomes, which aligns with the County’s philosophy, and follows the three-phase anti-recidivism model – getting ready, going home and staying home—approved by the Board of Supervisors’ Criminal Justice Committee in 2008.

“We rely heavily on a professional staff that has long experience in implementing successful assessment-based learning programs,” STEP Executive Director Barbara Caulley said. “We will assess each individual and tailor training and mentoring to fit his or her needs. Equally important, we will continually assess progress at each step along the way and make adjustments as necessary.”

STEP will work closely with other organizations like adult literacy program Project Read, community colleges and both for-profit and not-for-profit employers.


The Success Through Education Program was founded in 2014 by Barbara Caulley, former dean of the School of Business and Management at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, CA. Caulley enlisted the aid of several colleagues, all of whom have a history of successfully implementing adult education programs. STEP’s mission is to help reduce the recidivism rate by using evidence-based education, assessment, mentoring and advising to help inmates and recently incarcerated successfully transition back into society.